Thursday, 1 July 2010

Bandwidth crunch: myth or real threat? 2

Another post about the so-called "bandwidth crunch": an interview with NaMex, the internet exchange point of Rome.

1) a ABI research in august 2007 (quoted by many sites afterwards) said: “The increasing bandwidth demands on cable operators will soon reach crisis stage, yet this is a ‘dirty little industry secret’ that no one talks about.” Similar thing was said in february 2010 by RIM co-CEO. What does Namex think about it? Is a "bandwidth crunch" a real threat?

The growing demand for interactive and multimedia services in recent years has led content providers to an increase in the demand for bandwidth to Internet service providers. The current transmission technologies shift a large flow of data on the backbone of the operators, always keeping up with the increasing demand of the bandwidth from content providers. Today, however, Internet traffic has moved from the core of its infrastructure, represented by international transit providers (Tier-1). Part of the traffic is exchanged directly between content providers and customer networks.

So, if the core doesn’t have bandwidth problems, for example in Italy the growth of traffic shows up some problems about the users access lines where the “broadband technology” is not very radicalized: too few investments by Access Providers due to poor use by the population of multimedia services and so-called Web 2.0 applications.

2) Worst case scenario: a terrorist wants to hit the Namex: if he succeded, what would happen to connection in Rome?

The original design of the Internet was aimed at avoiding that a failure in one of its nodes could impact the overall functioning of the network, later in time people started to think about site availability, apparently forgetting the original design principle of the network itself. From a theoretical point of view, a failure of NaMeX should not affect the overall Internet traffic, neither locally, nor at a broader level. In practice, as experienced in past outages, we can expect some minor difficulties for ISPs not fully exploiting redundancy of physical links and logical forwarding paths.

3) What's the percentage of growth that Namex can handle (in the near future) ?

As the current utilization of our switching infrastructure is way below its nominal capacity, we could manage twice or three times the current peak traffic as well, without any need for upgrades.

4) Does Namex think that the present infrastructure (generally, in the world) is suitable for IP-TV?

In the Italian scenario, especially in suburban areas, edge access network is still unsuitable for these kinds of applications. Nonetheless, there is not a generalized answer for the entire world: while Japanese have 1Gbps fiber connections to their home, we can expect many european countries experiencing the same “digital-divide” issue as Italy.

5) Namex is a non-profit internet exchange; in USA some Internet exchanges are profit organizations and are listed on Nasdaq: what do you think the advantages and disadventages of being non-profit are?

NaMeX was established as a non-profit consortium whose goal was to provide a set of useful services to its members, that is: members gathered together to setup an infrastructure that was considered useful to all of them. In this sense, there is no reason to think NaMeX as a profit organization, as its guiding principles are mutualituy and neutrality. Being non-profit also ensures that revenues are wholly invested in infrastructural upgrades and organizational improvement.

(Thanks to Flavio Luciani of Namex for accepting the interview)

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